A nutritionist is a medical professional licensed to prepare diet plans for people with specific health problems, who are overweight, undernourished, or who simply wish to eat better. Here are a few tips for finding a skilled professional.

Most people understand the basics of good nutrition, though they may not take time to eat properly. A nutritionist can help you establish good eating habits to optimize your health and nutrition.  In addition, this professional can design a healthy diet which works for those with specific health conditions such as food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes.

When choosing a nutritionist, the American Dietetic Association recommends using a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are nutritionists who have earned an accredited bachelor’s degree in nutrition, completed a clinical internship, passed a national examination and met requirements for continuing professional education. You can use the American Dietetic Association’s web site to locate someone in your area.

What exactly is a nutritionist?
A nutritionist is also referred to as a dietitian, although a registered dietitian, you must meet specific educational and professional requirements. Their job is to design a nutrition plan that will address an individual’s needs by working with the specific characteristics of the person, including their body type, any allergies, previous medical history, weight, job, age, gender, and others. For example, the nutritional needs of an office worker will greatly differ from that of a construction worker. If the individual has health conditions like diabetes or ulcer, the nutrition plan must be customized for these conditions. A nutritionist is responsible for educating and encouraging clients to eat healthier foods, which may be a challenge depending on the income of the client. Healthier foods are often more expensive, but a good nutritionalist can suggest low-cost alternatives.

Job scope 

  • Assess the person’s nutritional needs. It is the job of a nutritionist to ensure that the patient has the optimal nutrition for their personal characteristics, including body type, lifestyle and sex.
  • Advise a patient and their relatives regarding good nutrition. A client may find it difficult to change their diet plans without the support of their family. Food is a lifestyle choice, often with emotional connotations. To make a major change, people need to be aware of these factors and the alternatives.
  • Educate people. A nutritionist will educate clients through individual counseling and seminars which teach them how to eat healthily. A good education program  includes information regarding how different foods can affect the body.
  • Work with institutions.In many institutions such as hospitals, senior and daycare centers, a nutritionalist will work with the catering staff to ensure that food is properly prepared and provides a complete diet. They may also need to suppliers to keep the meal plans within a certain budget.

How a nutritionist can help

  • Become healthier. To function optimally, it is important that you get the right amount of nutrition. People can be more resistant to stress and disease when properly nourished. A nutritionist can help you be more efficient mentally and physically.
  • Lose or gain weight. If you have trouble losing or gaining weight, it may be time to see a nutritionist. A professional nutritionist will work with your body size, cravings and current eating habits so that you can achieve your weight goals in a healthy, pain free and encouraging way.
  • Manage your health conditions. People with health conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol may need a special diet which caters to their situation. A nutritionist will find a diet plan that can help avoid flare-ups of medical conditions, while educating clients regarding how different foods impact their illness or condition.

Find the right nutritionist

Here are some tips for finding the right nutritionist:

  • Check their credentials A licensed nutritionist will certainly have credentials and your doctor should be able to make a recommendation. To locate a nutritionist yourself, contact the Commission on Dietetic Registration or the American Dietetic Association.
  • Check for specialization. Like doctors, nutritionists often have their own area of expertise such as weight loss, child nutrition and allergies. Look for the nutritionist that best serves your needs.
  • Good personal rapport. In working with a nutritionist, it is important to have good chemistry or rapport. If you choose a nutritionist that you don’t connect with, you are less likely to follow their recommendations. Choose someone that you trust, respect and would want to educate you.
  • Be careful of fakes. There are people who pose as nutritionalists without having proper accreditation, so check their qualifications carefully. Choose someone who comes highly recommended or has good internet reviews. Read these reviews carefully to determine if they are realistic, as they may be posted by the nutritionalist themselves. The Commission on Dietetic Registration has a verification accreditation search feature on their web site so you can easily check a nutritionist’s credentials.

As interest in health and wellness grows, use of nutritionists is becoming increasingly popular.  These professionals can help people with weight issues as well as those who need to manage medical conditions. Nutritionalists often work with hospitals and other institutions ensure patients receive complete and healthy diets. Unfortunately, some  individuals may pretend to be licensed dietitians. To make sure your nutritionist has the proper credentials, check with the Commission on Dietetic Registration or the American Dietetic Association. Don’t be afraid to be choosy – it’s a big decision that will affect the fundamentals of your health. It’s important to find someone who is right for you.

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